Omoide Yokocho literally meaning “Memory Lane” and more commonly known now as “Piss Alley”, has a very long history dating back to 1946. A year after World War 2 this area of Shinjuku started developing into a location for street vendors and the black market because of its easy accessibility to bring goods in and out of Japan. As time went by, new structures were built, buildings demolished, and the city of Tokyo started to reshape itself into becoming more modern. Omoide Yokocho (思い出横丁) is one of the only areas in Shinjuku that kept it’s old look, style, and feel which is why it’s name translates into “Memory Lane”.
Why Piss Alley?
So why is it sometimes referred to as “Piss Alley” nowadays? It's not because drunk people take a piss on the street, however you may be surprised to hear that this alley which has around 60 izakaya bars and restaurants, has only 1 public bathroom... Even though there's only 1 public bathroom, don’t be deterred from eating in this area because most bars and restaurants nowadays have their own restrooms. Though not all of them do. In the case that you do run into a situation where a bar or restaurant doesn't have a restroom, then you can easily find the public restroom located in the middle of the alley. On busy days in the area, you may have to wait in line as most people that eat and drink in Omoide Yokocho are mostly business folks and locals coming to enjoy a meal after a long day of work.
Yakitori (Grilled Skewers) - Food Heaven
If you’re looking for a place to eat mouthwatering grilled skewers while enjoying great Japanese beer then Omoide Yokocho is the place you should go. Boasting over 60 kinds of bars and restaurants, you can find many types of food here ranging from sushi to steaks. But yakitori (grilled skewers) is what this area is best for! As many places to eat here have a wide variety of grilled skewers to choose from such as:
- Chicken Wings Tebasaki (手羽先)
- Juicy Beef
- Pork Belly
and even some stranger skewers such as:
On top of that skewers here are surprisingly cheap ranging from as low as 100 yen to 300 yen per stick. Interested in checking out some places? Check out our Top 5 Recommended Izakaya Bars in Omoide Yokocho.
Fun Japanese Local Atmosphere
Here's a little glimps of the atmosphere of Omoide Yokocho, it's pretty sweet! This place is usually open starting at 4pm or 5pm depending on the shops opening time. It gets really busy around 7pm which is when everyone by that time, is usually off work. When it gets crowded, it's when you're glad that you got a seat as most places here caters on a first come first serve basis. You'll likely be seated next to some random people because shops here, which are mainly family owned, like to fill up their seats as much as possible. But busy hours are usually the best time to hang out, as you can easily talk to people sitting next to you and maybe find other travelers who are also in the area.
If you like to ditch the line and experience these food alleys in Tokyo at night, then go on a bar hopping food tour with Magical Trip where we will show you around Omoide Yokocho and hidden local places around Shinjuku with reserve seats, and together enjoy the nightlife scene of Tokyo.
A Step Into the Past
Experience Omoide Yokocho aka Piss Alley, discover a different side of Tokyo away from all the glitz and the glamor. Learn and feel the rich history that this alley has to offer. Eat, drink, laugh, take a piss, and have a enjoyable time out in Shinjuku at night.
Omoide Yokocho Location
Access from Shinjuku station West exit(around one minute walk)
Walk along the right side and in a couple of minutes, you will see a UNIQLO building on the corner. Once there go around the corner, and you will find the green neon signs as the entrance of the alley.